The diminutive but energetic Newton — the former executive director of nonprofit gallery Artspace — had a significant hand in developing First Fridays, a series of highly attended opening nights for several galleries along the Broad Street corridor between Belvidere and the Artspace building, at 6 E. Broad St. In a way, her new space is a result — or consequence — of former success.
“I would have loved to have been on Broad Street,” Newton says, crossing her arms and squinting into the bright sunlight streaming across the gallery’s green carpet. But rent in that area has “skyrocketed,” she says. “Thanks to our efforts,” she adds with a wry look. Even Artspace is moving to the Manchester District across the James where cheap rent in an underdeveloped area beckons artists and gallery owners surviving through grants and second jobs.
Talk to Newton about revitalizing downtown and you will hear a litany of difficulties, from the confusion of public transportation to thorny ABC laws that stifle the nightlife. Her criticism gives way to the pleasure of creativity, however, as she strides through the rooms of her new Curated Culture quarters, describing ways to turn this former office into a thriving gallery. “My big task,” she says, “is to raise money to retain the space.” — Wayne Melton
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